Monterrey Open: Elina Svitolina hopes to ‘unite tennis community’ behind Ukraine

Elina Svitolina celebrating a point by putting her hand on her chest during her game against Anastasia Potapova
World number 15 Elina Svitolina is the top seed at the Monterrey Open

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina says it is her mission “to unite the tennis community” behind her country after beating Russian Anastasia Potapova in the Monterrey Open first round.

Svitolina, wearing the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag, won 6-2 6-1.

The 27-year-old initially refused to play the match until the WTA and ATP said Russian and Belarusian players must compete as neutral athletes.

“I was on a mission for my country,” said the world number 15.

“I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy I’m here playing tennis.

“I think it’s my mission to unite our tennis community to stand with Ukraine, to help Ukraine because what we’re going through is a horrible thing for all Ukrainians.

“That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing for my country and doing my best to use my platform to try to invite people to support Ukraine.”

Svitolina will face Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova in the second round in Mexico.

The former world number three, who is the top seed at the Monterrey Open, also announced she is donating her prize money from the event to Ukraine’s army.

“I’m playing to help the Ukrainian army and people in need,” she added. “Every victory that I’m going to get is going to be very special.”

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has suspended the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation from international team competition after Russia, supported by Belarus, launched a military invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.

All ITF tournaments in Russia and Belarus have been cancelled, while the WTA and ATP boards have also suspended their combined event that was to take place in Moscow in October.

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